The Suffolk Chocolate is a very new breed of cat, having only been introduced to the Cat Fancy in 2014. Indeed, the chances are you have never heard of it as yet. But these cats have already made their mark on cat lovers, owing to their beautiful shiny coats and gregarious, outgoing personalities. So where did this new breed come from?
The Suffolk chocolate evolved from an earlier breed – the Havana. It has been developed in recent years by two breeders of traditional Havana cats. They both come from Suffolk – hence the name of the new breed. The breed was created as a reaction against the modernisation of the UK Havana. The Havana had become a breed back in the 1950s, designed to be shown as one of the Foreign breeds. It was created to be a breed in its own right by a group of dedicated breeders who wanted a self coloured brown cat of 1950's Siamese type. But for a variety of reasons things changed. Some of the cats were sent to the USA, and they eventually became American Havana Browns. The Havanas that remained in Britain had an insufficient gene pool, and had to be outcrossed to Siamese cats. This created the modern Oriental breed.
However, since 2007 a group of Havana breeders have carefully bred cats from some of the existing lines in the UK, ,ad with the inclusion of some European cats, eventually they created the Suffolk Chocolate cat.
The Suffolk Chocolate achieved 'New Breed Status' in with the GCCF in 2014, and reached 'Preliminary Level' in 2016. As far as I can see, TICA does not list the breed at all, still referring to them as Havanas.
The Suffolk Chocolate is said by those who own one to behave rather like a dog, and to be very attached to its owner. These cats are extremely talkative, extrovert, and very happy to follow their owners everywhere. Some of them will even walk on a harness and lead. They make ideal house cats, as they love being with their owners. Suffolk Chocolate kittens rarely use their claws, which means that they often fall off furniture, which can be quite comical. They are gentle cats, and make ideal companions for children, since they will never scratch, being so reluctant to use their claws. Like most Oriental cats, they are very intelligent and extremely inquisitive. They are the first to welcome visitors to your home. They love to play with toys and enjoy chasing games, and will do this sort of thing for hours on end. They will also pick a favourite toy and play with it endlessly. They mix well with other cat breeds, and get on well with dogs.
The Suffolk Chocolate must have a good diet in order to maintain its beautiful shiny coat. Breeders recommend feeding them on foods that contain oils, such as oily fish and fish oil supplements, as well as good quality cat food of course. However, some of them love their food too much and tend to overeat, so their weight needs to be carefully monitored. These cats have short fur which is easy to care for. But they are in any case quite happy to be groomed with a soft brush, and they take well to being bathed before being taken to a show, which is very useful for their owners.
The Suffolk Chocolate is a healthy cat, and does not seem to be susceptible to any diseases. However, as they are descended mainly from the Oriental, it is possible that they may tend to get some of the conditions that affect this breed, such as flat-chested kitten syndrome and progressive retinal atrophy. But there is no evidence for this as yet.
Suffolk Chocolates are only available in chocolate and the recessive version, lilac – this version is sometimes known as the Suffolk Lilac. They are medium sized, with the females weighing approximately three kilos, and the males four to kilos. They have graceful, muscular bodies, with long, slightly tapered tails, and elegant long legs – in many ways a typical Oriental type look. Their ears are quite large and wide, and their medium-sized eyes are always green.
If you want a Suffolk Chocolate kitten you may have to wait a while, since they are fairly rare at present. As with all pedigree kittens, make sure you find a reputable breeder, and try to see the kittens with their mum, and if possible their father too. If you tend to be out for long periods of time, the gregarious Suffolk Chocolate will get lonely, so do consider getting two kittens, or another cat which they can play with. However, knowledgeable breeders say they can cope alone during the day so long as you give them a stimulating environment and plenty of attention when you are home. But these cats are not for the faint-hearted, or someone who just wants peace and quiet. They won't just sit around all day; they want to be a part of your life, and can be very demanding of your time, since they adore their humans and want to be with them as much as possible. While other cats might scratch you or walk away when they have had enough attention, the Suffolk chocolate will be quite happy to be fussed 24/7 – and then demand more!
The Suffolk chocolate sounds like a fascinating new breed, which is hopefully destined to be very popular. Since they are very new, you will probably not see many of them around as yet, and they will be quite rare even at shows. But that is likely to change in the future, so keep an eye out for this beautiful, friendly, unusual new cat breed.